With a struggling bullpen and facing a powerful offense perfectly suited for a homer-friendly ballpark, Mike Scioscia is relieved the Angels were able to escape New York with a win.
Kevin Jepsen got Alex Rodriguez to pop out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning and Los Angeles took advantage of New York’s baserunning follies to beat the Yankees 10-8 Sunday.
”What many would consider a safe lead, those guys aren’t going to quit playing,” the Angels manager said of the Yankees. ”We walked four guys in the ninth inning. We kind of loaded the gun for them and they almost pulled the trigger. So it was good for us to hold on but you need to make pitches. This was a rough series for some guys in our bullpen.”
Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Ernesto Frieri to make it 10-7, the first runs off the closer since he joined the Angels on May 3 — a span of 26 1/3 innings.
After a walk to Nick Swisher, Scott Downs relieved with a 1-0 count to Raul Ibanez. Downs had given up Teixeira’s go-ahead homer in Friday’s loss and he struggled again.
Ibanez knocked the glove off Downs with a sharp grounder and reached for an infield single. Pinch-hitter Andruw Jones struck out, Russell Martin had a fielder’s choice and Derek Jeter walked to load the bases.
Downs then walked Curtis Granderson to make it 10-8 before Jepsen entered. He retired Rodriguez on a popup to the grass behind first base for his first save since 2009, helping the Angels avoid their first three-game sweep in New York since 1995.
”Me against you, here it is,” Jepsen said of his approach against Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was 2 for 11 with the bases loaded coming in. Earlier this season he tied Lou Gehrig’s record for most career grand slams with 23.
”What an awesome situation,” Rodriguez said. We just came up a little short.”
Albert Pujols and Erick Aybar hit consecutive home runs off Ivan Nova in the first inning for Los Angeles. Maicer Izturis had a go-ahead, two-run shot in the sixth and Mark Trumbo connected in the ninth. The American League rivals combined for eight homers.
”Felt like today was a pretty good day to get one up in the air,” said Trumbo, who homered against New York for the sixth time in seven games.
Trailing 2-0, the Yankees rallied for the third straight game to take a lead behind Rodriguez’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first and Jeter’s RBI single in the second.
But the Angels had a comeback of their own this time.
Albert Callaspo hit a tying sacrifice fly on the 10th pitch of the at-bat in the sixth – on a spectacular diving catch by Granderson. Izturis then homered for the first time in nearly a year.
Granderson and Eric Chavez connected to make it 6-5 after seven innings. Mike Trout’s RBI double, Bobby Wilson’s run-scoring single and Aybar’s squeeze play in the eighth gave the Angels what appeared to be a comfortable margin.
Jered Weaver (11-1) was hardly at his best in winning his fifth straight start since coming off the disabled list June 20, giving up more than one earned run for the first time since May 18. He allowed five runs and 10 hits in seven innings.
”In this stadium you have to pitch to the score, keep you team in the game as much as possible,” Weaver said. ”You never get a break with that lineup.”
The Yankees spared him more trouble by running into four outs on the basepaths, including a big blunder in the third inning.
With one out, runners on first and third and Teixeira at bat, Robinson Cano was caught off first base. While he was in a rundown, Rodriguez inched off third. After Cano was tagged out for a caught stealing, the indecisive Rodriguez made a late attempt to score but Aybar, the shortstop, threw home and A-Rod was easily tagged out by Wilson.
Rodriguez snapped a 49 at-bat stretch without a homer, hitting No. 643 of his career in the first. The two-run shot gave him his first multi-RBI game since June 12. His two-run homer snapped Weaver’s scoreless streak at 20 2-3 innings.
Jeter singled in a run in the second for a 3-2 lead, but he was caught rounding first for the third out of the inning.
Ibanez grounded into a double play in the fourth.
In the fifth, Eric Chavez got doubled off first when Weaver caught Martin’s popped up bunt.
Nova (10-4) breezed through the Angels’ lineup after a rocky first, yielding only two hits until Kendrys Morales led off the sixth with a single. He was pulled after allowing Trout’s double and Aybar’s single to open the seventh.
Trout scored on Pujols’ double-play grounder, closing Nova’s line. He gave up six runs and nine hits.
”I Feel like I can do better than this,” Nova said.
Granderson made an over-the-shoulder catch slamming into the wall in straightaway center field for the second out of the third inning. He received a loud ovation as he ran off the field at the end of the inning and when he led off the bottom half.
NOTES: Cano tied a career high with a hit in an 18th straight game. … The Angels placed RHP Jordan Walden on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained biceps, retroactive to July 9. OF Kole Calhoun was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Walden’s roster spot. His bags were lost en route and he had to borrow cleats and a glove. … Angels RF Torii Hunter didn’t start for a second straight game because of a sore groin. He entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth. … The Yankees won the season series 5-4.